At the car, I unlocked the doors and watched him studying my small pale blue Toyota. I opened the passenger door and popped the glove compartment. A collection of random things spilled out and I dug through papers, thin books, tissues, CDs and a torch before finding a small book of matches. They had come from a hotel or a pub once upon a time. I handed them to him.
‘I’m Ted, I said.
‘Creek,’ he replied.
I paused, ‘that a nickname or…?’
‘Suppose,’ he answered, lighting up and beginning to suck on the cig.
‘You want to put your bag in the boot?’
I left the passenger door slightly open and walked around the car. Unlocking the boot, I lifted it up and stared down into a mess of items. Quickly, I began moving things off to the side and creating some space. I heard him come beside me, the acid stink of tobacco and sweaty clothes.
‘You got a lot of shit in there. What you do?’ he enquired.
‘I’m a builder…well, a handyman now really,’ I responded happily, ‘there. It should fit now.’
He slipped the rucksack off and swung it into the hole I had created. Tools jostled around it as if eager to inspect the foreign body settling beside them. I slammed closed the boot and walked to the driver’s side. Opening the door, I looked over at him. He was taking long drags on the cig like a thirsty man and looking up at the sky.
The night and Mistress Moon had finally blessed me. This was going to be good, I could feel it in my gut. I got into the car and closed the door. I did my cockpit checks, seat in place, seatbelt on, keys in the ignition, mirrors and everything coming up fine on the dash.
Creek got in, flicking the cig butt away and blowing out the last lungful of it. He closed the door and relaxed into the seat. His long legs sprawled out in the footwell, he hugged himself and wrapped his arms around his stomach. His head and that mop of brown hair pressed against the headrest and he looked for a few moments like a tried teenager.
A splatter of rain hit the window and the drops began to run into one. Another handful pattered down then it began to rain fully. I turned my eyes away and they dropped between his legs. I licked my lips, tasting the bitter coffee stain and dry skin.
‘We going or what?’ he muttered.
‘Yes. Please put your seatbelt on,’ I stated, putting my hands to the wheel.
Creek snorted, ‘really?’
I nodded and with a growl, he put the belt on. I smiled broadly at him and started the engine. He gave me a hard disbelieving look before turning his head away. I teased the car out and followed the signs back to the motorway. Judas Priest came on singing Living After Midnight. I hummed along and speed up on the slip road.
‘I’m glad you decided to come with me,’ I said softly.
I glanced at him, he had his eyes half shut and seemed completely uninterested. I pulled onto the almost deserted motorway and hit the speed limit.
‘For company, I mean. I could really do with some. This trip has been pretty lonely,’ I explained.
‘Maybe you should get a dog?’ he suggested.
‘I’m not too keen on them,’ I shot back.
He shrugged his shoulders and put his head on his shoulder as if to sleep. I stole a few more glances at him, then kept my eyes ahead and in my mirrors. Driving became automatic, so my mind turned to other things. Where would the best place be? How to do it? When? I hummed along to the next song and carried on thinking.
A lorry over took me and then a coach. I came off at the next exit and went around a large roundabout twice reading the direction signs carefully.
‘Are you lost?’ Creek’s voice called out.
I jumped slightly and glanced at him, ‘no, no, I missed the turn that was all. Here’s the one we want. South Wales. That okay with you?’
‘Yeah, sure, whatever. I got to piss,’ Creek announced.
‘Right. I don’t see any services. I’ll pull up. I could go myself.’
I checked my mirrors and indicated, before pulling off to the side. I stopped under a streetlight and Creek opened the door. A cold, wet wind splashed against me. I put my hazards on and turned off the engine. The passenger door banged shut and Creek walked quickly around the front of the car, his legs lit up by the headlights. I watched him disappear in a patch of struggling scrub land. I glanced at the clock, the numbers flashed two fifty-six AM. A good time to die.
I got out, leaving the driver’s door open and went to the boot. Popping it open, I looked inside. I selected a long shovel and a hacksaw.
To Be Continued…